C. J. F. Williams

Christopher John Fardo Williams (31 December 1930 – 25 March 1997) was a British philosopher. His areas of interest were philosophical logic, on which topic he did most of his original work, and ancient philosophy, as an editor and translator.

C. J. F. Williams
Born(1930-12-31)31 December 1930
Midsomer Norton, England, UK
Died25 March 1997(1997-03-25) (aged 66)
RegionWestern philosophy
SchoolAnalytic philosophy
Main interests
Philosophical logic, Ancient philosophy, philosophy of religion
Notable ideas
Analytical accounts of existence, truth and identity



Christopher Williams was born and grew up in Midsomer Norton in Somerset in the United Kingdom. He was educated at Shrewsbury School and Balliol College, Oxford where he took a First in Greats and became a convert to Roman Catholicism, a faith to which he was openly devoted for the rest of his life. Planning to enter the Benedictine Order, he became a novice at Downside Abbey, but shortly thereafter was struck by polio which left him severely disabled and permanently wheelchair-bound.

Instead he became an academic philosopher, lecturing at the University of Hull before moving to Bristol where he taught in the philosophy department as lecturer, Reader and Professor until he died following a cardiac arrest.[1] Despite his disability, Williams commuted between Bristol and his home in Midsomer Norton and attended many philosophical conferences around the world. He also edited the philosophy journal, Analysis.


Believing that such fundamental concepts as existence, truth and identity had been widely misunderstood by the philosophical tradition, and obfuscated especially by metaphysics, Williams attempted to show that they could be elucidated by a close analysis of the way those and related terms are actually used. Williams was not, however, an ordinary language philosopher; rather, he produced painstaking analyses of the concepts couched in the terms of symbolic logic. In this approach, founded in the logical work of Gottlob Frege, he was most immediately influenced by Arthur Prior and by his friend and fellow Roman Catholic philosopher Peter Geach.

He summarized his views in a trilogy of books, What is Truth? (1976), What is Existence? (1981) and What is Identity? (1989), and produced a more accessible overview, with less emphasis on symbolic logic, in a single volume, Being, Truth and Identity (1992).


  • What is Truth? (1976)
  • What is Existence? (1981)
  • What is Identity? (1989)
  • Being, Truth and Identity (1992).


  1. ^ Richard Swinburne, "Obituary: Professor C. J. F. Williams" The Independent, 29 March 1997